Firefighting Mode – Chapter 1
Having one family member work from home with a part-time career brings some ease. But it doesn’t really solve the problem. MM soon learned that.
MM (ref Becoming Microwave Madam) began to brighten up her home with curios. Basically dust collectors that provided occupational therapy that she really could have done without. She wasn’t that much of a shopper, but still found her cupboards filling with badly thought out purchases she didn’t use much. And clothes that couldn’t take a machine wash and needed laundering. This became an additional chore.
Then there were the rules about how house work needed to be done that come down from mother to daughter, or mother-in-law to daughter-in-law. And are prevalent even in nuclear families, as the younger woman often goes to the older woman for advice. Gender roles made her the fall guy (or gal) who was entrusted with carrying on these ways.
Here’s some that were common among friends of MM:
- Dishes have to be sun dried and or dried under the fan and cannot be wiped dry before that.
- No floor cleaning after dark.
- Washing machines cannot be used for anything other than heavy laundry. And all laundry has to be scrubbed with brushes and beaten with a wooden bat – even if it’s being machine washed.
- Rules about the shape veggies need to be cut that can NEVER be broken and can take the joy out of cooking because there’s no space for experimentation.
These are just examples of ways that inhibit the flexibility to minimize chores at home or find one’s own way of doing them. There are women who don’t have these issues. And families where house work traditions are sensible and actually bring ease. MM had heard of these families, but she didn’t know anyone from them.
She had her own set of ways that maximized chores. And a perfectionism that is I think, bred into many women and often outlives it’s benefits.
She’s got OCD
She's got OCD - it keeps her safe the world will end if the tendli is cut round, not straight. OCD that will later give her control there's so many rules - no one could ever take over her role. She's struggling these days because there's no maid and it's hard for her to find comfort on this bed she has made.
PS : Tendli is an Indian vegetable – I think it’s Ivy Gourd in English.
I invite you to read all chapters of Firefighting Mode and think about the kind of society we create when we leave the busy unmoderated, and let it take over our lives.